Wise guys always carry paper advertising.
Even if you’re one of those authors who keeps a trunk full of books for sale everywhere they go. Even if your book is pocket or purse size. Even if your book is e-only, or is a blog or other digital media. Even if your target market is online.
Why? Because you never know what extra sales you could generate by simply handing out a piece of paper with your book information on it to that person you just met. Maybe they’ll buy your book, love it, and recommend it to everyone they know. Maybe they’re president of a book club. Maybe, if you’re really lucky, they are head of the New York Times Book Review. You just never know.
While it is not a bad idea to keep a couple of copies of your book in your car in case someone wants to buy one right now, most people you’ll talk to would rather get information and then buy it online later. But you can’t trust them to remember it later. That’s where paper advertising becomes important.
Just imagine yourself in a social situation, or maybe even just checking out at the grocery store. Somehow the topic of your book comes up, and you mention you wrote about that. If you don’t hand them a piece of paper with that information on it immediately, they’ll move onto something else and not think of it ever again. If they do remember the conversation later and try to look up your book, they probably won’t remember the title or your name (unless you’ve got one of those snappy pen names I wrote about last time, like Lemony Snicket).
But if you gave that person a business card, they can pull it out of their pocket, or purse, or lunch bag, or shoe, and have the information right in front of them to look up.
Unless they forgot which pocket, or purse, or shoe it was left in (or was it right?). Or it got mixed up with their junk mail and thrown out. Or accidentally left behind, or fell behind their cash register or desk.
Which is why I prefer something nicer than a business card. Nicer does not necessarily mean expensive, and in fact it should be cheap like a business card since you’ll want to hand out hundreds and thousands of them. But it should be something that whoever you’re handing it to will want to hold onto and protect for later. Ideally, it will be something that the person you give it to will want to use later, so they can be further reminded to buy your book.
So what can you give them? Of course you could hand out a business card or a quarter-page sheet, but these risk being lost or thrown out. My favorite and most successful handout is a bookmark (which is actually a quarter page ad with the page being divided differently, with drastically improved appearance and sales results). Depending on your book, relevant tie-ins could work as well, such as recipe cards for cookbooks.
Don’t feel limited by paper either. I have seen successful handouts made of wood (for a woodworking book) and fabric (for a quilting book). You may want to consider slightly more expensive handouts as well, if you can brainstorm something appropriate to your book topic. Perhaps some artwork reproduction from your book’s illustrations, or a sample of a craft or less-perishable food from your book… the sky’s the limit. For more expensive handouts, I tend to restrict handing them out to people who I feel have the highest likelihood of buying but just need a little extra encouragement, but if you feel generous enough to hand these out to everyone, go for it.
No matter what you are using for hand-out advertising, make sure that it is clear, attractive, professional and contains all the important information (book or blog name, your name, and where to buy it). You can include more information if it will help you sell your book, but don’t overwhelm the customer with words – which is a big marketing challenge for many writers! If you don’t think that your graphic design skills are up to snuff, there are lots of people out there who can help you with this at a reasonable cost.
And once you have it printed and ready, hand it out like party favors. Give something to everyone you meet. Remember, the more people know about your book, the more people can buy it.
Learn more about marketing your writing at Sierra Writers on May 13th at 6pm. For more details, check out my upcoming class calendar.